Your gum disease is incredibly more complex than you think
Many people tend to think of gum disease as bleeding gums after brushing or flossing. They do not realize that this symptom indicates that a potentially terrible disease is already present in their gums. Others have learned the hard way that letting this disease go untreated leads to severely damaged gums, bone loss in the jaw, and lost teeth. Periodontitis remains the number one reason Americans are losing their teeth today.
What Is Periodontal Disease?
The initial stages of gum disease are called gingivitis. While in this stage, the symptoms are rather mild, but damage may be occurring elsewhere. Along with the bacteria that cause gum disease, inflammation is occurring at the same time. A strong connection has been found to occur between the inflammation caused by the bacteria that cause gum disease, and major health issues.
Complications of Periodontal Disease
The health issues caused by the inflammation from periodontal disease include cardiovascular disease, stroke, diabetes, problems with pregnancy, and many more. Having this gum disease raises your risk of cardiovascular disease by 19 percent, but it is increased to 44 percent for those 65 or older. People with diabetes have an increased mortality risk that is 3.2 times greater than those without the disease.
How Periodontal Disease Works
The bacteria that produce gum disease are naturally found in the mouth. In a healthy mouth, they are kept in control by the many good bacteria that is also present. When sugar or carbs are introduced, the bad bacteria produce an acid. The presence of the acid and the inflammation caused by it leads to a natural reaction from the immune system.
The acid and inflammation, as well as the various components of the immune system, ultimately begin to work together to bring about the destruction that periodontal disease is known for. The white blood cells start coming to the site because of signaling from the cytokines, which are proteins secreted by cells notifying the immune system of inflammation.
One particular type of white blood cells, called neutrophils, is the main kind of white blood cells in the human body. Cytokines signal for them to come to the site of inflammation. The neutrophils begin their work of attempting to curb the harmful bacteria and other agents seek to curb the inflammation.
During the process of attempting to curb the inflammation, however, some cells stop fulfilling their normal function – the fibroplasts, endothelial cells, and the epithelial cells. In the presence of certain other compounds and hormones, they are turned off. The cells that provide materials to maintain and strengthen the matrix that supports your gums and teeth cease to function, bringing about the faster destruction of it. Once the source of new structural material is turned off, the inflammation and the bacteria causing gum disease can gain free access to the site, bringing in many more reinforcements.
The Complexity of Periodontal Disease
There are many aspects of periodontal disease that are still not understood. The disease is incredibly complex and a number of factors remain unknown. Why some things occur may be slightly different for each individual. Additional factors include the strength of their immune system, their genes, and the types of bacteria involved.
This means that each person with this gum disease needs to be evaluated by a periodontist so that individualized treatment can be given. It may require genetic testing of the oral bacteria to determine which bacteria are involved, and some lifestyle changes may also be strongly recommended. Diabetes, for instance, needs to be controlled in order to control gum disease.
Periodontal Disease Treatment
Once periodontal disease has started, pockets have started to form on the gums. These provide hiding places for the bacteria that are out of reach of your toothbrush and floss. A dentist will be needed to diagnose the situation and provide treatment for it. There are several periodontal disease stages which indicate the amount of damage and more than one type of treatment may be necessary. A periodontist is necessary when serious damage has occurred.
Gum Disease Prevention
The best way to beat gum disease, particularly periodontal disease, is to prevent it from occurring at all. You can do this by brushing your teeth twice a day and flossing – preferably before you go to bed. If you have gingivitis, this will usually remove it, too, but you will need to keep up the habit to ensure it does not return.